Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Last Day of School!

Alyssa at 2 1/2 when she started at Redeemer
They say the first day of school is so hard for the Mommies. They're lying. The first day of school is exciting, happy, new! The LAST day of school is the one that's emotional!!
Alyssa on the 1st day of Pre-K this yr
(SIGH) I just dropped off Alyssa for her very last day of preschool and childcare and I can't keep from tearing up just a little. It's amazing to ponder all of the changes she's experienced in the almost three years we've been at Redeemer Lutheran in Peoria. She's learned to use the potty all by herself (for the most part...but we won't go there). She's learned her letters, her numbers, her colors, and how to listen to the teacher. She's transformed from not-so-sure-about-this-place to completely confident and ready for anything. She no longer uses a stroller, a bib, or a booster seat at the dinner table. So many phases and stages have come and gone in this short time. It's definitely the end of a chapter for the Traceys. We no longer have a little girl in the house. She's departed forever and has been replaced by a beautiful, smart, and hilarious big girl who's all ready for Kindergarten. I just want to know why no one waits for Mommy to be ready. Yeah, yeah, it's a good thing. It's the way of life. Kids are supposed to grow. And, I do look forward to the next big adventure. But, I won't hide it, this is emotional! I'll probably shed a tear or two at graduation tonight. (I'm sure I won't be the only one!) Then, I'll squeeze my sweetie and try to hold on to this age for as long as I can. That is, until she says, "Too tight, Mommy, too tight!"

Thank you to all the teachers, aides, helpers, and staff of Redeemer Lutheran Preschool and Childcare for three wonderful years. We love you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a FREE Resource & the winner of a "Child-Like-Fun" prize

Congratulations to melissaH! Melissa, thanks for posting what brings out your inner child. We've got a Child-Like-Fun prize pack for ya including a 91.5 WCIC t-shirt, portable picnic blanket, and a CD. Just email me at with your shirt size (Adult S-3X) and your mailing address. And, again, congratulations!

How about something else FREE? If you're looking for some encouragement and practical advice for your family in just about every area, you're not alone! Jeremy and I are always looking for some good, solid help and guess what? I just signed up to receive a F.R.E.E. subscription (yes, FREE) to Thriving Family, a bi-monthly magazine published by Focus on the Family. I'd picked up a sample issue this year at the Hearts at Home Conference for Moms in Bloomington and was very impressed. There were articles based on your child's age and what you might be facing, marriage issues, managing money, and more. Very practical and very positive! You can get a free subscription as well. Click on this link for all the info:

I called the toll free number to order my free subscription and didn't have to give anything but my name and address. It looks like if you order on-line, you will have to provide your credit card numbers, but won't be charged anything. Thanks again for all the great posts and enjoy the free mag!

So, what's your favorite parenting or marriage resource? Share it with us in a comment!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So many distractions!

Hi! First a quick reminder...make sure to post a comment on yesterday's blog entry (5.10.11) to be in the running for a fun prize. Tell us what helps you bring out your inner child!

Today I want to share a quote that's really got me thinking. Stormie Omartian, author of The Power of a Praying Parent says:

There is so much in the world to divert our children's attention away from the things of God, and the Devil will come to each child with his agenda and plan to see if they will buy into it. But when we do our part to teach, instruct, discipline, and train our children in the ways of God, then our children will develop a hunger for the things of God.

This is challenging, convicting, and a little puzzling. How do you know for sure if your child is just being a five-year-old and getting really excited about a new passion in life (Star Wars and the Stars Wars Lego game on XBox360) or if the enemy is presenting a temptation to your child to keep her away from the things of God? We don't let Alyssa play video games every day. She plays on the weekend and for a limited amount of time. And, we try to keep her changing the games so it's not always the same one. We read the Bible together as a family. We pray together. We talk about the things of God throughout the day. Still, Stars Wars and that Star Wars Lego game seem to be on Alyssa's mind A LOT! She loves talking about Star Wars, acting it out in the car, playing the game when she's allowed, and now wants to find books at the library guessed it...Star Wars.

So here's the we again shorten the time she's allowed to play? Do we take it away altogether for fear that it's becoming an obsession? Or do we keep on as we have been; allowing her to play for a limited time on the weekends only while making sure she's getting outside to play, ride her bike, etc.? My fear, if we take the game away completely, is that we'd be setting her up to resent us in later years. I mean, we can't remove everything she seems to have a passion for in life that's outside the "Christian Bubble", can we? What if the obsession becomes gymnastics, dance, or horse riding? Am I only afraid of this particular phase because it has to do with so often demonized video game industry?

Another question that comes to mind is, can we use this current interest to draw her nearer to God? We've already talked with her about how "The Force" is a mythical thing but that we, as followers of Jesus, do have a "force" within us that is called the Holy Spirit. A force that guides us to make the right choices and allows us to know more of God. We've talked about how God talks to her through His spirit, helping her make decisions in tough situations, like choosing to stay in bed during nap time even if Mommy's sleeping in the next room and won't hear her walking around.

I feel like we're doing a decent job exposing Alyssa to the things of God every day. But, I don't want to ignore an area that could potentially draw her away from those very things. This is where the hard stuff begins, I do believe.

So, what do you think? Have you faced a similar issue? How did you handle it? And, how do you help your child(ren) develop a hunger for the things of God?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oh, to enjoy life like a kid again!

Do you remember losing yourself in having fun? I loved that about being a kid. And, I love to see it in my five year old. When exactly do we decide to enjoy life a little less? To hold back the pure bliss of riding around town with the windows down? Sad, really. I want to help my daughter hold on to that excitement for life as long as she can! So, tell us, how do you bring out your inner child? Comment on this post for a chance to win a 91.5 WCIC t-shirt, a portable blanket great for summer picnics, and a CD from one of the artists you hear on the station! Dig deep and find that zeal once again!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Traceys Ditched Bedtime!

So last night we were planning on heading home, getting Alyssa to bed on time, and then settling in to watch "Makeover Week" on The Biggest Loser. But then Jeremy got a text from Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave. He said he'd heard a rumor that we might be coming out for their concert at Crossroads United Methodist Church in Washington and was hoping he'd get to hang out with us a bit. Well, Jeremy and Mike always have a lot of fun when they get together, so my first instinct was to say yes. Of course, who wouldn't want to see BDW, Chris Sligh, AND Luminate? Crossroads always puts on a GREAT show and the people are so friendly (they gave Alyssa pizza and cookies last night which makes them rock stars in her mind). Plus, it would be something different. GOING OUT ON A SCHOOL NIGHT? We almost never do that, at least not all three of us together. By the time we get off work, pick up Alyssa, get home, and have dinner together, it's usually time for her to head off to bed. So, the thought of breaking the routine for just one night was more than intriguing. After a few minutes of debate back and forth we decided to go for it!

And, we are SO GLAD WE DID! Jeremy and Mike got to hang out quite a bit and they were having a great time laughing, trading stories, and looking up funny stuff on the iPhone (I know, surprise with iPhone, right?). They even recorded a short video together which Jeremy will post soon. Alyssa loved the fact that not only did she get to meet Mr. Mike, but then he sat with us, and then she got to hear him sing!

All three artists were terrific. Luminate is very young but extremely talented. I look forward to more great stuff from them. Jeremy loved the lead singer's vulnerability about the fears he faces in life. Chris a word...HILARIOUS. The singing was good, too. And of course, Big Daddy Weave, one of my all time faves. They never disappoint. The energy and professionalism combined with the heart and 'relatability' (I think I just made up a word) is matched by very few artists. They are simply incredible and I am always amazed by the fact that they sound live exactly the way they do on the radio. Just a little louder. :)

The highlight of the night, though, came when Mike Weaver was sharing about the needs of so many kids around the world for even the simplest necessities. He talked about visiting some children in Ecuador and how full of life and smiles and dreams they were. His passion for helping these kids in Jesus' name was tangible and Alyssa felt it big time. When he asked for folks to raise their hands if they wanted to sponsor a child through World Vision, I thought she was going to rip my arm off trying to raise it. She looked at me as if to say, "Mommy, why aren't you raising your hand? We have to help the children!" So, Jeremy and I had a brief on-the-spot conference and decided it was time for Alyssa to choose her own child to sponsor in a developing nation. At the World Vision table in the foyer we found a picture of little 5-year-old Bilihehe from Tanzania. She's just 15 days younger than Alyssa. She was definitely the one. In fact, she was the only child I saw on the table who was even born in 2006. God's hands were all over this and the most precious memory of the evening was seeing Him work in my little tired girl's heart, sparking a huge desire within her to help others. She talked about Bilihehe and Mr. Mike all the way home. Well, until she fell asleep. Plus, she was so excited to find out she was able to pick out one of Big Daddy Weave's CDs as a gift for signing up as a sponsor last night. Double Score!

So, the takeaway? Sometimes ditching bedtime can be a good thing. A really good thing!